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News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz, Hoda Kotb. (2013) A man who spent 29 years in prison for a murder he confessed to but now says he didn't commit. New. (CC) (Stereo)

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Barry 47, Montana 21, Us 15, Barry Beach 12, Kim Nees 10, Louisiana 7, Becky Bryan 6, Keith Bryan 6, E. Wayne Phillips 5, Petsmart 5, Atkinson 4, Lenscrafters 4, Oklahoma 4, Command Center 3, Becky 3, Usaa 3, Heaven 3, America 3, Bobby 3, Bryan 3,
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  NBC    Dateline NBC    News/Business. Keith Morrison, Josh Mankiewicz, Hoda Kotb.   
   (2013) A man who spent 29 years in prison for a murder he...  

    August 2, 2013
    9:00 - 11:01pm PDT  

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my husband is laying here gasping for air. oh, my god! >> she started telling me about a young man coming into their home and shooting keith. my first concern was how are we going to find him. >> a big mystery in a small town. a fire chief murdered, his wife the only witness. >> she was panicking. she was crying and frantic. >> this detective knew them both. her job now, solve this crime and clue number one was a doozy. >> she said after he was shot, he turned to her and said you know, i'm sorry, ma'am. >> i'm sorry? a killer who apologized?
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and that was just the start. a gun stashed in the dryer, a man's glove, but whose dna? and a woman with a whole lot to reveal. >> no, no, no, no, don't take it off. >> she talked her talk to me. >> do you realize that some of her secrets would be exposed? >> "mystery in mustang." but first, she was a well liked valedictorian at poplar high, and one summer night down by the river. >> i could hear all these girls saying get her, chasing her. dragged her. a horrible scream. >> some in town claim this was a murder by a gang of mean girls. but he's the one that's convicted, sent to prison. >> i did not kill kim nees, you have my promise. >> sentenced to 100 years. >> guilty as charged.
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not one moment. >> did he really commit this crime? that's a question that drew us to this case and drove us to investigate. >> a "dateline" piece where these witnesses have the courage to come forward. >> and just months ago, a dramatic new development, a whole new ending. >> it was the last thing we ever anticipated happening. >> i am lester holt, this is "dateline." we begin tonight with keith morrison and return to poplar river. >> there is a common misconception that momentous events occur in great cities, that justice is handed down true and pure from marble palaces. but what would lady justice say about the story you're going to see now, about a nobody in a nowhere town, a story that is, well, what would they say? >> this is crazy. how can you do this. >> i couldn't believe it.
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>> this is definitely a shock. >> yes. it is all of those things, shocking, unbelievable, crazy. and tied with an unbreakable chain to a summer's night in a poor forgotten back water more than 30 years ago. the town is poplar, montana, june 15th, 1979. summer was here. school was out. kim nees, 17, school valedictorian, national honor society graduate, was finally about to escape this town for college. around about midnight kim left her house to join the end of school party. it was the next morning when police found the family pickup at a well known party spot a half mile outside town. they followed a trail of blood from the truck down a rotted dirt track, 250 feet or so, to the poplar river, and there they found the battered body of kim nees.
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>> the term i used was overkill. >> dean mallom was undersheriff, later the sheriff in the investigation. >> there were 20 to 21 blows to kim's skull, which any of which could have caused her death. >> there was rage involved? >> there was a high level of rage, someone was very angry. >> at the crime scene, no shortage of evidence. blood everywhere, inside the cab of the pickup, fingerprints, more than two dozen, multiple footprints in and around the trail where kim's body was dragged to the river. and on the truck near the passenger door, a palm print in blood. the fbi lifted the print, said it would have to have been left by the killer. >> we worked very, very, very hard at determining whose that was. >> why kim nees? wasn't a robbery or sexual assault. people do talk. and around town the story was
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that this was call it a jealousy killing. kim was popular, attractive, class valedictorian. the boys loved her. and she was about to leave poplar behind for good. the story was that this was local kids, mostly girls, who beat her to death. so went the rumor. >> that was one of the, again if you will, the theories that folks around town had is that there may have been three or four of kim's peers that were involved with her death. >> bobby clincher heard the talk, she lived down the block from the knees family. >> what did you hear? >> her grandfather had told me all indications are that it was girls. >> though many of poplar's teens, boys and girls wound up on a list of potential suspects, including bobby's son barry who once dated kim's sister. >> did you question him harshly about it? >> uh-huh, he said repeatedly he didn't know anything about it. the only thing he knew is what
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he had heard, what he had been told. >> that's what all the kids told the police, too, and nothing happened. nobody was arrested. three years went by. then in january, 1983 sheriff mallon picked up the phone, found himself talking to a detective from way down south. >> he asked if i was aware of an individual by the name of barry beach, wanted to know if mr. beach was or had ever been a suspect in homicide in roosevelt county. >> barry was almost 21 by then. he had gone to louisiana to be with his father and stepmother. wasn't going well. in fact, his stepmother had him arrested for helping his step sister skip school. then told arriving police officers that barry was once questioned about the murder of kim nees in montana. well, it just so happened investigators in louisiana were scratching their heads over murders of three women in their county.
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so could beach be their killer? >> from talking to sheriff, the fact he was a viable suspect. >> so the detective that called the montana sheriff interrogated beach about the louisiana murders. what made you think he was the kind of guy would be your prime suspect? >> the fact that he was a suspect in a murder already. >> so the detective put barry in a little room here at the sheriff's office and groomed him. f -- grilled him for two days. after many hours of questioning, his answers about kim nees changed, according to jay vy anyway. >> we asked him were you responsible. this part of the interview, he kept saying i don't remember if i was or not. >> soon the detective was joined in his work by commander alfred calhoun, known as something of a closer. vy stepped out of the room while the commander worked on barry.
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>> alfred stepped out of the interview, said he wants to talk to you. when i walked in the room, barry was crying, and he admitted to killing kimberly nees. >> the mystery was solved. all the rumors about other suspects, including that group of girls, long whispered of in connection with the crime, were apparently wrong. vy allowed barry to call his mother back in montana. >> i said barry, why did you confess to something you didn't do? and he said well, they're going to come back to montana and help me prove i didn't do this. >> but in montana, helping barry beach was not on the menu. first degree murder was. barry pleaded not guilty, but when his trial began at the courthouse in glasgow, montana, the prosecutor came on very strong. >> i had a detailed confession that only the killer could have given. >> within a decade, mark roscoe would be elected montana's governor.
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in 1984, though, he prosecuted barry beach. >> he gave a very detailed confession that matched the things that were discovered at the crime scene. >> like what? well, beach described the shirt kim wore, the tire iron and crescent wrench used to kill her, how she was dragged out the driver's side of the pickup, on and on. when testimony was finished, the jury was back in just six hours. the verdict, guilty. and so in the spring of 1984, the story of the life of barry beach was apparently over. dead man walking, sentenced to 100 years, no parole. but of course, who are we fooling. the amazing story had really just begun. >> why would barry beach confess to a crime he says he didn't commit? if he's innocent as he claims, can he somehow prove it? when we come back, a closer look at the evidence, where it
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life in prison can do terrible things to a man, suck that might once have saved him and instead make him mean, bitter, a hopeless case. so we were in for something of a surprise when we first met barry beach back in 2007. by then, he was 45, had spent more than half his life in montana state prison, was destined to die here, but he didn't act like it. you're not going to get out of here, are you? >> when they gave me 100 years, they gave me 100 years to prove i didn't commit the crime that put me behind bars. >> didn't commit the crime? how could he claim such a thing, after all, he confessed. what more was there to say? well, actually quite a bit. weren't exactly a choir boy, were you? >> no, sir. i drove fast cars. i liked rock and roll. >> and you liked to party. >> every chance i got to be honest with you.
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>> and what really happened he said on the day of the murder in june, 1979 was this. he was drinking and smoking dope and swimming in the poplar river outside town. by the time he walked the mile back home, he said. >> i actually went straight to my bedroom, went to sleep. >> what time was this. >> somewhere between 5:00 and 6:00 in the evening. >> when kim nees was murdered, he said he was fast asleep. but even though his sister swore he was telling the truth, there was that confession. you said you killed that girl up in montana. >> yes, sir. i said that i killed kim nees. >> and that's when the story enters the twilight zone. barry beach says he believed he was about to be released from prison, the minor charges called in by his stepmother about to be dropped, when suddenly he found himself in an interrogation room answering questions about murder.
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those detectives seemed to think he had committed the three unsolved louisiana murders. the murders they were trying so very hard to solve. >> next thing i know, they started showing me pictures of dead bodies and told me remember doing this, and i would say -- i was telling them i didn't do it, i didn't kill anyone. >> but as the day wore on and his anxiety, fatigue, confusion grew, the door opened, and in walked commander alfred calhoun. >> he promised me that he would personally see me fry in the louisiana electric chair. >> what were you feeling in the middle of all this? >> i was scared to death, keith, but i knew he would execute me if given the chance. >> then said barry the talk turned to the murder in montana, the murder of kim nees. >> well, it started off that they asked me to speculate how it happened, then i was asked to give a hypothetical story using myself as the perpetrator.
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>> then he said he heard the detectives tell him if he just went ahead and gave them a confession, they'd help him prove his innocence later when they got back to montana. >> i don't deny that the confession took place. i don't remember all the details of it. >> barry, come on. i really don't think i'm going to tell a police officer i killed a girl if i didn't kill her. why would you do it? >> i was a 20-year-old kid, 2300 miles away from my real home. they scared me so bad, i would have said anything to get away from them, anything to make it stop. >> and barry couldn't get anybody in authority to believe his version of things, though for decades he filed appeals, wrote letters. would anyone ever listen? apparently not. until one of those letters reached him. >> we get 11, 1200 letters a
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year from people asking for our help. >> this is reverend jim mcklaas key, founder of a group called sen turian ministries. and running with a small staff of six people, paid only through donations, compiled quite a record. over 33 years, the group freed from prison or death row 51 men and women wrongly convicted. >> do you have to be convinced beyond any doubt that somebody is actually innocent? >> yes, we do. we don't take a case on unless we are convinced of the person's innocence. >> so before centurian would commit to his case, the investigators had to check out that confession. there's a signed confession. you ask anybody around the country, of course he did it. >> there have been over 200 men exonerated by dna from sexual assault or murder, convicted, imprisoned, later freed and exonerated. 25% of those men falsely confessed to that crime when
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arrested under interrogation. >> but they found in the case of barry beach, the chance for dna testing had been lost because all the testable evidence from the case had somehow disappeared from montana's crime lab. the fingerprints were still in the record though, and this was curious, not a single one of them matched barry. neither did any of the multiple sets of footprints left behind as kim's body was dragged from the pickup to the river. and what physical evidence there was did not match barry's confession. what did he get wrong? for one thing, barry told the interrogators that kim tried to get away from him by scrambling out the driver's side of the truck. evidence showed she had actually come out the passenger side door, right where the still unidentified bloody palm print was found. >> it is not barry beach's palm print, it is not kim nees' palm print. after she was attacked inside
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the vehicle, her killers pulled her out, deposit her on the ground, and one of them closed the door. >> there was more. in the confession beach told the police, his fingerprints weren't found on the truck because he wiped them off. they wondered how could beach wipe off his prints and leave more than two dozen others all over the inside of the truck undisturbed. but a few such oddities didn't match. >> once his confession, it became immaterial and irrelevant to the truth of the matter. >> how could that happen? centurian got a hold of a former sheriff's department employee that fielded a dozen calls between them and the detectives during the interrogation. does that mean the confession was coached or dictated somehow?
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evidence, well, some of the calls turned out were transcribed. at one point the sheriff tells the detective she was wearing a plaid shirt, kim was, when she was murdered. sure enough, in barry's confession, he says she was wearing a plaid shirt. trouble was she wasn't wearing a plaid shirt. that was wrong. the detectives denied any wrongdoing, said all barry's statements were voluntary and they didn't put any words in his mouth. >> you never got information from dean moum you were able to pass on in the course of the conversation he confessed. >> not one bit. absolutely not. that's totally false statement and allegation. >> but a little digging, they uncovered what is believed to be disturbing information about the louisiana detectives. remember the three louisiana murders the detectives questioned beach about? well, months later the same detectives filed charges against
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two men from whom they extracted, yes, confessions. their charges were later dropped, those confessions revealed to be false. >> you have detectives with a track record of claiming they've got detailed confessions with people with information only the killer could know, and those are false confessions, and it speaks volumes about what they claim to be the validity of barry's confession. >> if barry beach did not kill kim nees, then who did? that's what makes this case a little different because centurian's team not only believes barry beach is innocent, but that it knows who is guilty. coming up. troubling recollections. >> she was talking about how the wrong person got put in jail. >> what a strange thing to hear. >> gave me the creeps. she said we got away with the
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[ male announcer ] one pill each morning. been behind bars in montana for 24 years. for 10 of those years, centurian investigators dug around for anything, anything at all that would indicate barry did or did not kill kim nees back in the summer of '79, and they were
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more convinced than ever he was an innocent man. >> we have not developed any information that would tell us hey, maybe barry is guilty, because if we did, i can assure you centurian ministries would have dropped this case years ago and moved onto more fertile fields. >> but it was the secrets in this old town that persuaded centurian it had a different kind of case, that it was able to not only say barry beach was innocent but that it knew or thought it knew who might be the real killers. for 25 years, the rumors had persisted that a group of girls killed kim nees. now centurian's investigators encountered more than just rumors. centurian investigators turned up witnesses who claimed one of those girls now a middle aged woman had implicated herself in the murder. this is that woman.
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her name sissy atkinson. >> she was talking about the kim nees murder and how the wrong person got put in jail. >> this man said he heard sissy making incriminating statements in a factory where they both worked. >> she looked at me and she said we got away with the perfect crime. >> nor was he the only one that heard sissy put herself at the murder. one of the others was about the last person you would think would ever come forward. >> i think kim nees is looking over sissy's shoulder all the time. >> this man's name, jd. his last name, atkinson. yes. sissy atkinson's brother. he was imprisoned on drug related charges when we talked to him. he heard the rumors, of course. one night he said he was talking to sissy when she was a little high. did your sister sissy tell you she was there the night that kim
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nees was killed? >> well, the way she said it, that they were partying down there. >> and there were other girls there, too. >> yeah. >> how much did she get out before she dropped off. >> just that one of them girls come running around the pickup with a crescent wrench. >> jd said his sister passed out before she could say any more. >> one of the things we keep hearing from the state is these girls, if they were involved, wouldn't have kept quiet. somebody would have heard something over the years. and these people who have come forward did hear something. >> sissy was 51 when we met her in 2007. an admitted drug addict, she was not entirely happy to face questions about a murder more than three decades old. >> i told those ministry guys, i said when we all die and go to heaven and you guys find out that i had no knowledge of it, i hope you guys will be gentlemen
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enough to come and find me in heaven and tell me you're sorry. >> in fact, sissy's story about what she did that night has changed over the years. here is what she told us in 2007. she was at a local bar and in fact the bar tender confirms sissy and some other girls were there, closed the place, way past midnight said the bartender. but sissy said it was much earlier when she asked a friend for a ride home. >> she drove me to my home and i went in and i went to bed. >> so you were in bed by when that night, do you remember? >> oh, 11:00. >> why would we have witnesses that say that you said a few years after the murder that you got away with the perfect crime? >> never came out of my mouth, never. >> is it possible that it's blocked somehow? >> i've got a very, very good memory. >> i don't want to be cruel when i say this, but if you do have a really good memory, you're probably the only addict on the face of the earth that does.
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what is it going to take to stop the whispers? >> i don't know, i don't care because i'm not involved. >> and in fact, that bloody palm print is not hers, no fingerprints either. >> if i was there, they would have found some dna on me, you know, something. >> after our interview with sissy, went looking for more of the girls, now women, that witnesses placed at the scene. one of them, joann jackson, but like sissy, says she was tucked into bed hours before the murder. >> i don't have any reason to be implicated in this whatsoever, you know. i went home. i talked to my mother. >> do you know what time of night that was? >> around 11:00. >> after that, you have no idea what happened? >> no. >> but the things that can happen when such old stories, long buried in secrecy go public again. hard to believe. coming up.
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by 2009 every effort to free barry beach from the state prison in deer lodge, montana, and there were many, had failed. do you really think you're going to get out of here? >> yes, sir. >> but despite the years, the stress, had all taken a toll on barry's mom. after bobby testified at a failed clemency hearing, her health gave out. >> it was a stress related heart attack. >> like your body falling apart. >> yeah. i thought god's promise. >> there was something sad about
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her unshakeable certainty in the face of unkept promises. didn't this seem like almost -- >> hope springs eternal. >> they did a legal hail mary, a motion that found its way to montana supreme court. it asked for a new judge to hear a whole new appeal of beach's conviction. >> just give us a fair judge. that's all we're asking for. >> so they asked and then they waited. and the request was approved. the montana supreme court asked a judge with a reputation for toughness to consider the new evidence. in august, 2011 barry walked into the courtroom to a chorus of applause. by then, "dateline's" report on the murder of kim nees had aired, and supporters were there
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in the courtroom, with judge e. wayne phillips. >> and another thing the "dateline" report had done, turn up new witnesses. >> when the whole story was told and the "dateline" piece, these witnesses finally decided, you know, i know something that might be able to help out. >> that long running rumor the real killers of kim nees were actually girls from her own high school class? the judge would hear much more about this, about, for example, the alleged admissions of guilt by sissy atkinson. >> that i had no knowledge of it. i was not there. >> this man testified that sissy herself told him the story several times. told him about the group of jealous girls, how they hit kim with a tire iron, rolled her body into a river. >> i know for a fact girls murdered kim nees and i know he's not a girl. >> and then there were two witnesses who came forward to say they heard the same story from joann jackson. >> she told us that she and a
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group of girls took another girl by the water. she said they dragged her, beat her, and things got out of hand and she died. >> joann, why would they do this? and she says she was smart and she was going away to college. >> but if there was a star witness among the many who appeared, stef ee eagleboyd, ten years old, when she sat on a bluff overlooking the poplar river and heard the sound that's ever since been her recurring nightmare. >> i could hear all these girls hollering and saying get her and just other girl saying don't, please. >> judge phillips questioned the witness himself. >> did you hear screaming? >> yes. >> what kind of screaming. >> like a horrible scream.
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a high pitched, angry scream, hollering, something you won't forget. >> she said she never came forward because of the other things she saw from her perch on the bluff that night. soon after the girls stopped screaming, she said, a police car cruised up to the place where it happened and lingered briefly and left. the police must have known and done nothing, she decided. so she said not a word until she heard barry's story. after all the witnesses testified, it was the state's turn and the state contended that all of them waited too long to come forward, and none was very credible, that barry's confession was much more compelling. >> by every court, the confession has always been upheld. >> the state saw it one way, centurian another. >> we were cautiously
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optimistic. barry was more confident than we were. he said guys, this judge is going to reverse this conviction. he says i just got a good feeling about this judge. >> oh, but good feelings and desired results do not always agree. after all, the montana attorney general believed as did sheriff dean mallon that none of the evidence exonerated barry or pointed to multiple attackers. >> due to lack of other injuries, we were dealing with one perpetrator as opposed to a large group of people. >> besides, he said, barry's confession and conviction settled the matter. >> if the conviction is expunged, that's a travesty because barry beach killed kim nees. >> they vacate the judgment, it says that your belief and the veracity of that confession was false. >> no, what it says is that someone else killed kimberly nees and no one else killed
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kimberly nees. >> your confidence is overwhelming. >> good. >> this was the moment for that old cliché, the jury was out. >> all rise. >> except in this case it was a jury of one. the judge, e. wayne phillips, all up to him now. coming up, the judge speaks. >> it was that linchpin that convinced me. >> a rare interview about this remarkable case when "dateline" continues. i don't miss out... you sat out most of our game yesterday! asthma doesn't affect my job... you were out sick last week. my asthma doesn't bother my family... you coughed all through our date night! i hardly use my rescue inhaler at all. what did you say? how about - every day? coping with asthma isn't controlling it. test your level of control at asthma.com, then talk to your doctor. there may be more you could do for your asthma. you choose two seasonal favorites
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when barry beach left this montana courtroom, the judge promised a ruling soon, which meant that barry beach went to his prison cell, ticked off days and weeks and months into the fall. you can't get your hopes up too much, can you? you have been whacked so often. >> it is hard to keep your belief up sometimes but he had been faithful. >> and then november, 2011, the decision. a 30 page ruling. it was just hours before the thanksgiving holiday. judge e. wayne phillips ruled there was clear and convincing evidence a jury could find barry beach an innocent man.
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for almost 30 years, beach had been hearing the word no. and now finally this time it was yesterday. not freedom, not yet, but at least this, a chance to clear his name for good. judge phillips granted a new ial. >> i had just sat down to watch the news and i just started praising god. i was just -- it was so emotional for me. >> it doesn't get any sweeter than this, especially because of all the bitterness that barry had experienced with this case. but finally here was a man, a judicial authority, who heard the evidence and agreed that if a future jury hears this evidence, they would find mr. beach innocent. >> and here was something very unusual, after granting barry beach a new trial, judge e. wayne phillips agreed to sit down with "dateline" and explain
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his decision. >> i mean, how could you rule as i did on the evidence i had and not think about whether the guy should just be set free. >> the judge stopped free of declaring barry beach innocent. after all, there was that old confession on file. but once he heard stephy talk about hearing the murder happen. >> it was that linchpin that convinced me a jury properly instructed would have said i've got doubt. i have reasonable doubt about this man's guilt. >> and then the judge not only granted beach a new trial but at least until that trial much, much more. >> it is this court's determination that it can release mr. beach on his own recognizance. >> as the state's attorneys vowed to appeal, barry beach was hustled out of the courthouse to
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a jail down the street, the paperwork was done. and minutes later for the first time in three decades, he was free. >> hello, mom. >> safely in the arms of a woman who through it all has always been with him. >> what was that like? >> unreal, absolutely unreal. citizens didn't even know me, stopped, honking their horns, waving, congratulating. and it has been like that ever since. >> after his release, barry lived in billings, montana with restaurant owner stella and zig zigler. he met him through prison ministries. >> as soon as he got out, cell phone, computer, zip zip zip, he worked at someday i'm going to get out and i'll be ready. >> he started his own maintenance company and parlayed that into job of head of
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maintenance at a billings motel. barry's boss. >> he was overseeing 3 and $400,000 remodeling projects, had a staff of five people, plus he was part of our senior management team. >> after eight months, barry received permission from the judge to live on his own and fixed up this house, was working to buy it so his mom could eventually move in. he traveled all over montana, responding to requests to tell his story. >> bet you he did at least 50 speeches. >> did he have a message for people that resonated with them? >> hope. there's always hope. >> he has a connection with people, no matter whether it was a politician or a banker he connected with them. >> ex-police officer tom hammel became a friend. >> he was trying to do his best to fit into the community, to be
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one of a respectful citizen. >> after three decades behind bars, barry beach lived life. he learned to ski, went horseback riding and fishing, enjoyed rodeos, made new friends. >> life is like ice cream. there's 64 flavors of ice cream, you have to try them all. >> all the while knowing the state of montana was appealing the judge's ruling and intended if necessary to put him on trial again for the murder. he, after all, confessed to it more than 30 years ago. it was a day in court barry said he was eager for, to help find the truth. >> justice for kim nees is not going to be served until the whole truth is discovered. and the preparation for a new trial gives me more of an opportunity to discover that truth. >> you a little worried about it? >> no, my god didn't put me where i'm sitting at now to let me down. >> but of course no one can
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predict the future, no matter how we all may try. >> always knew this kind of sword was hanging over his head, could happen any time. >> he talked about on many occasions i know it is out there, but down deep in our heart, we never thought the probability would finally come. >> but it comes, the future comes, like it or not. coming up. a ruling from the court and some will be stunned. >> it was the last thing we ever anticipated happening. [ female announcer ] waiting, waiting...
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for barry beach, billings, montana was far more than just home, after his release from prison, it was some kind of heaven. by may, 2013, he called this town and this house home for more than a year and a half, waiting to find out if the state would drop the case or retry him or possibly even send him back to prison. and then on may 14th, the decision came down. the montana supreme court ruled against him by a vote of four
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justices to three. they ruled judge e. wayne phillips gave too much credibility to all the new witnesses that came forward to tell their stories and not enough credibility to barry's original confession all those years ago, which meant not that they were putting him on trial again, oh, no, it meant they were sending barry straight back to prison to resume his life sentence. now. montana's attorney general declined "dateline's" request for interview, but issued a press release which read in part mr. beach's allegations lacked substance when closely scrutinized. beach's conviction is valid. therefore, like every other person convicted of murder, beach is required to serve his prison sentence. >> i was stunned. >> centurian's mcklaas key so confident that the court would rule in barry's favor, but this? >> i mean all of us that are convinced of barry's innocence, it was a kick in the stomach.
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>> the warrant was issued within hours. barry insisted on walking to the sheriff's office to turn himself in. the ziglers went with him. >> he stopped, put his hand on my shoulder, said i hope you know this means i am going to have to go back and serve the rest of my time. i said barry, don't talk like that. i don't want to hear that. very emotional day for us. like losing your family. >> reaction was swift and shocked and sad, from waitresses at stella's. >> very heart breaking, i have seen him work here, and he is an active member of society. >> from barry's boss. >> does barry belong in prison, no, absolutely not. i would trust him with my hotel, i would trust him with my family, i would trust him with anything. >> and of course, barry's mother bobby who waited decades to get
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her son back and now he was gone. >> i was stunned for days afterwards. just couldn't wrap my mind around it. >> that could be said, too, for barry. back in state prison blue, perhaps for the rest of his life. >> what's it like to be you these days? >> sickening. it was the last thing we ever anticipated happening because i went out there and i did everything right. >> you know, i talked to some people, they said i would have run. i would have just taken off. >> that wasn't my mindset. my word means everything to me and i've looked you in the eyes before and i've told you i did not kill kim nees. that's my word. you have my promise, that same promise i gave the attorney general's office, my legal team and everybody else around me that i would turn myself in, and as hard as it was to keep my
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word, my word is my bond. >> meanwhile, an internet petition campaign collecting signatures, nearly 6,000 at last count. centurian is planning their next move. >> the federal court i believe will look at this very differently and reverse the conviction which openly will free barry. >> for now and probably for years, barry is walking these familiar sidewalks, eating the same prison food, enduring the same smells and never ending routine that is life without parole. zig and stella are getting up in years as are his mom. >> will you see her again on the outside? >> if there's one thing that's got me concerned, very concerned, it is that. because i will be free again. i am going to walk free again.
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i just asked my mom tog hang in there with me. >> his little house back in billings is exactly as he left it, as if he died in a car accident or simply vanished, or as if he thought he might come back someday. >> i did 29 years and 11 months. i don't want to do another day. but if you don't think i will, i will fight as long as i have breath. >> we'll keep following barry beach's story. now our second hour of "dateline." this story, too, is all about secrets. >> oh, my god, oh, my god! >> his wife said she saw it all. >> this young kid shot him in the head right here. >> point blank. >> point blank. >> a fire chief murdered, watching a movie at home. >> she started crying
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immediately, she said what am i going to do. >> each clue stranger than the next. a killer who apologized? >> he turned to her and said, you know, i'm sorry, ma'am. >> he may have shot the wrong man. >> mistaken identity. >> who left a weapon in the dryer? >> that must have been a bingo moment. >> that was a big moment for all of us. >> but this case just might hinge on a single witness and the most revealing police interview yet. >> no, no, no, don't take it off. >> grabbed the bottom of the top she was wearing, pulled it over her head. i was shocked. >> there were secrets in this house, would this detective uncover them? >> maybe she had something to hide? >> i thought so, yes. >> "mystery in mustang." here is andrea canning. >> just about 20 miles southwest of downtown oklahoma city, a town called mustang. once farmers and ranchers dotted the land. it's bigger now, but folks still
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hold tight to their roots. >> a pretty quiet community for the most part. >> faith connects community here and people stay lifelong friends. >> it is a small town feel, very much neighbors helping neighbors. >> in a place like mustang neighbors know almost all there is to know about each other, for better or worse. so when the unthinkable happened. >> my husband is laying here gasping for air. >> it would be all the more startling when the secrets came tumbling out. >> i heard a lot of things that shocked me that i never would have imagined. >> had evil invaded mustang? >> i am in mustang, america, who would [bleep] do that. >> or come from within. >> it created a lot of fear for a lot of people. >> that was my first real who done it.
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keith bryan was oklahoman to the core, proudly raised in the sooner state. he married his wife at 19 and they settled in mustang. pam woodard, an old friend, welcomed out the mat for the bryan when they came to town. >> became an integral part of church, very active, grounded, very helpful. >> had two boys, trent and kent. >> becky was a good mom from what i could tell. she was a good mom. >> keith worked as a fireman, his dream job in the well to do oklahoma enclave of nichols hills. jerry hamilton served alongside keith, and the firemen were like brothers, the wives like sisters, says harry's wife kim. >> with the fire department, it is all families together. >> keith had a good sense of humor. outgoing. and he was really driven to succeed. >> and he did. promoted all the way to fire chief in 1991. but keith never lost his personal connection with the people he served.
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>> he was one of the first responders in the oklahoma city bombing. >> his bravery made headlines. >> he worked on that lady that was trapped forever underneath the rubble. keith wouldn't leave her. >> was he a hero in your eyes? >> oh, i think so. i was pretty proud of him as a friend for that. >> as for becky, she was a force in the community, too, working in real estate, her business often seemed more about the people than the money. >> becky had a very selfless side to her, too. there were people that i know of, if they were upside down, she even at times was known to take her own money to closing and help like that. >> keith was elected city councilman in mustang. becky's business was thriving, and their marriage an example to others. >> she and keith did some premarital counseling for several years in our church. >> they were counseling other
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couples how to -- >> they were counseling other couples how to have a good marriage. >> so it came as a surprise when in 2010 keith and becky hit a rough patch. the boys were grown and the empty nesters separated. becky moved out. david reddick remained close to keith in the separation. >> he wanted to know how he could change to show that love to her in a greater way. >> what advice did you give keith? >> i told him to talk to her about it, that she was sensible. >> keith worked hard to win becky back with gifts, dates, and loving notes. becky came home. >> he was telling some people that what all he had been through was worth it because it had made him even that much better of a husband. >> in the year that followed, keith kept up his campaign of romance. september 20th, 2011 was no different. becky was at a real estate conference in tulsa.
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keith texted her sweet messages throughout the day. becky arrived home around 8:30 p.m. a friend came over to chat. keith, now ever attentive, made them iced tea. after the friend left, becky says she and keith settled down in front of the tv. on the bill that night, keith's choice. a classic scary movie, "carrie." then came the real horror. >> 911, state your emergency. >> it was becky. >> a young man about 25. >> then the phone cut out. what was she saying? dispatchers sent police to the house. >> headquarters to -- >> becky called back. >> i just called 911 on my cell phone. are you coming to my house? she said an intruder shot keith in the head. >> my husband is laying here bleeding. >> and the intruder was getting away.
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>> oh, my god, he is in a little itty bitty pickup. >> now the fire chief was in urgent need of help himself. >> i got to go. >> stay on the phone. >> they sped to the bryan house but the questions came just as fast, who was this shooter, this intruder on the loose, and could he be found? an unfamiliar feeling spread through mustang streets and homes. fear. coming up, a detective is on the case, and she's about to hear something odd from becky bryan. >> after he shot keith, he turned to her and said i'm sorry, ma'am. >> a gunman who apologizes? what kind of intruder was that? >> my first concern was how are we going to find him. of mylowe's. aws
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oh, my god. oh, my god. i'm in mustang, america. who would [bleep] do that. >> word went out a brazen intruder had shot fire chief keith bryan in his own home and within minutes, first responders swarmed the house, securing it as a crime scene. as keith was rushed to the hospital, his wife becky stayed behind. detectives were on their way and she spoke to her brother david on the phone. >> she was crying and frantic. i said settle down, it will be okay, who is with you.
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her son was there. >> gina, a friend, rushed over to the bryan. >> i went over, hugged her, said how sorry i was, that god would get us through this. she said i'm sorry, i know he was your friend, too. >> the deputy chief reached becky on her cell. >> told her not to worry. they'll do a full investigation and they'll find, figure out who did it. >> at the house, becky was on the rear patio, on the phone with friends and family repeating the story of the armed intruder. >> we were sitting in open lot around the patio and i was fearful that they might come back. >> you thought at that moment that this person she described could come back? >> yes, i did. >> we hadn't had anything like that happen before. >> tammy mcneil, a detective with the mustang police department, was dispatched to the bryan house that night.
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and mustang being mustang, the victim and his wife were no strangers to the detective. >> what's your reaction when you hear it was keith? >> it was concerning to me because i knew this family. >> becky seemed relieved to see a familiar face. >> she called out my name and asked me to come sit by her on the back porch. and then she started telling me about a young man, approximately 25 years old, coming into their home and shooting keith in the head. >> and what did that young man say, according to becky? >> she said after he shot keith he turned to her and said, you know, i'm sorry, ma'am, that he should have [bleep] hired me. >> it seemed like a key detail, this apparent apology and explanation. becky had also recounted it to 911 dispatchers. >> he said ma'am, i'm so sorry, he said but your husband should
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have hired me. >> do you have a gut reaction about that story? >> it was concerning to me because we are a small community. my first concern was, you know, is there somebody out there, where is he and how are we going to find him. >> becky described the shooter as a man in his 20s with a big nose, and wearing a hoodie. >> i was trying to get as much information to other law enforcement agencies as well as our officers to start looking for him. >> was it possible keith knew the man? keith was in no condition to help investigators, but at the hospital, hopeful news. he was clinging to life. >> i told her, i said he is going to surgery. she said really? >> keith made it through surgery, still in terrible shape, but alive in the icu. when becky arrived, the halls of the hospital were filled with friends, loved ones, and keith's firefighter brothers. it seemed half the town of mustang was there praying for keith.
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>> how hard was it for you to see keith in that condition? >> it was very, very hard. i would tell myself, you never know, heard so many stories of people having head injuries, and i know prayer is so powerful, and i know he had so many people praying. first thing that happens when you see becky in the hospital? >> we come up and hug each other. and she's crying. i mean, she started crying immediately when i grabbed her. she says what am i going to do? what are we going to do? >> by morning, it was clear, keith would not pull through. those closest to him sensed it was time to say their goodbyes. >> what did you say to him? >> just -- i said you didn't
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deserve this, and i love you, good-bye. that was it. >> at keith's bedside, becky, keith's wife of 33 years wept, and as keith slipped away, along with the sorrow was the lost hope he could shed any light on who had done this to him. no one believed keith bryan had an enemy in the world. so as the search for the apologetic intruder got under way, one clue was as simple as the victim's name. coming up. >> there was a theory out there that perhaps this intruder was looking for a different fireman. >> would the killer have shot the wrong man? when "dateline" continues. [ female announcer ] the gold standard in anti-aging. roc® retinol. found in roc® retinol correxion deep wrinkle night cream. it's clinically proven to give 10 years back to the look of skin. now for maximum results, the power of roc® retinol is intensified with a serum
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fire chief keith bryan, so brave, spent his career running toward danger. now his life had been cut short inside the safety of his own home. he left behind two dear sons and a wife to whom he had been so devoted. >> i think it was just such a shock, such a huge event, and such a tragedy on so many levels. >> at the fire house keith led
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in nichols hills, captain roger strayka couldn't believe it. >> you have that feeling that's all exploding, don't know what happened. >> must be such a weird thing to hear. >> it was, over the years, fire service years, you get calloused over, hide your feelings. when it hits close to home, you ask yourself why. >> detective mcneil was no rookie, but this was the first case of its kind she had ever seen in mustang. >> that was my first real who done it homicide case. >> what significance does that have for you? >> it was very significant. i was nervous. i wanted to, of course, do a good job and make sure the right person went to jail for that crime. >> to find that person detectives needed to comb through every detail of becky's eyewitness account. mcneil and an agent from the oklahoma state bureau of investigation interviewed her again at the hospital the night of the shooting.
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>> time is 1:23 a.m. what's your first name? >> becky bryan. >> becky talked about how close she and keith were especially after they made it through that rough patch. >> we were quite in love. i didn't even know he loved me until i filed for divorce. it really came into play. >> investigators went over step by step how the shooting went down. >> what are you looking for when you go into that conference room to interview becky? >> how does this person know keith, can she describe him better, you know, things like that. >> and the door opened, we were watching a loud movie, "carrie" and this young kid about 25 years old walks into the house and comes over to the carpet and my husband didn't even have time to turn around. i looked just in time to see and then he come up from here and he
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shot him in the head right here. >> point blank. >> point blank, right here. >> it was then becky said that the shooter turned and spoke. >> it was unbelievable, the guy, this is what he said, i knew he was nice, wasn't going to hurt me, he said i'm sorry, ma'am, but he should have [bleep] hired me. >> so a polite shooter. >> yes, she did describe him that way, yes. >> there it was again. that odd but clearly important detail, along with his polite apology, the shooter seemed to give away a motive. was he someone vying for a job in keith's fire department? keith's deputy didn't think so. >> i never was concerned about that. >> why not? >> for one thing, it had been four years since we had hired anybody, so nobody is going to sit and stew for four years and then all of a sudden get mad and
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shoot the guy that didn't hire him. >> but if the shooter wasn't angry over a job in keith's fire department, there was another possibility, one that neighbors of the bryans wondered about. keith often did projects on the house. was the killer someone who wanted a construction job and didn't get it? one neighbor told police a few weeks earlier a stranger had been driving around asking for work as a handyman. he said the man had a funny face and drove an old pickup truck, he also remembered seeing a similar truck the night of the shooting. >> are you interviewing neighbors? are you asking people if they saw anyone suspicious in the neighborhood, if they saw a truck in the neighborhood? >> yes, all of that was going on. >> what were they yielding, anything? >> very little. very little. >> then among the firefighters and their wives, a third entirely different idea was bandied about. no one is sure who said it
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first, but soon some were wondering out loud if keith hadn't been the intended target at all. >> there was a theory out there that perhaps this intruder was looking for a different fireman. >> and why would anyone think that? not far from the bryans' home lived the oklahoma city fire chief, his name keith bryant. bryan with a t at the end. >> the whole keith bryant theory, that maybe they got the wrong fire chief? >> you know, that did not occur to me until i got to the hospital and that's the first time somebody brought up maybe mistaken identity. >> the buzz reached roger back at the fire house. >> that story did come out that possibly the person that done this got the wrong chief. it could have been anyone's theory as to what had happened. >> surely the oklahoma city chief hired and fired many more people than keith did.
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had the shooter been angry with him? a friend reached him by phone. he was safe and sound at a conference on the coast the night of the shooting, but there were problems with the mistaken identity theory. the two chiefs didn't look much alike, and the more keith's firemen brothers thought it over, the less likely it seemed. >> i still didn't think that story made sense. >> too far fetched? >> yeah, it is real competitive to get hired on as a firefighter. i just can't see somebody not getting hired and then killing the fire chief and the oklahoma city fire department, i don't think the fire chief really even has anything to do with the hiring process. >> so around mustang the questions were many, the answers few. people were watchful, certainly less at ease. >> i found myself wanting to close blinds early. >> did you have a moment of panic? >> a little bit, yeah. it was a little eery, not
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knowing what was going on. >> while those around mustang wondered who and where the invader was, investigators had found something at the crime scene. it would turn fear and suspicion right around. coming up. another key turn in the case. police question a witness who has a whole lot to reveal. >> no, no, no. >> she tossed her top, whipped it off. >> i was shocked. unlimited, my way plan today and lock in unlimited talk, text, and data for life. guaranteed, and only from sprint. visit your local sprint store or sprint.com. trouble hearing on the phone? visit sprintcaptel.com
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in the tight knit community of mustang folks who knew each other so well for so long began to swap stories, memories of their friend keith, the hero, the dad, the loyal husband and friend. but also stories about his wife
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and the night keith was killed. janna hickman who rushed to the bryans' home was there with her and heard her say this after the crime. >> i heard her say something about it would be hard to sell the house because he died in the house. >> did that sound callous to you. >> being a realtor, i could see her thinking about that. it was a little odd i thought. >> at the hospital, some friends noticed that becky was agitated one minute, eerily calm the next. >> she wasn't emotional, she was pretty calm, talking to different people. >> whenever we met her, she was very calm. >> too calm? >> i anticipated her needing comfort and i went to hug her and she just kind of held her arms down straight and didn't seem to need that type of consoling. >> and instead of sticking close
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to keith's bedside in his last hours, they thought it was strange becky was outside. >> sitting with her legs crossed on the bench, out with her friends, smoking, just very casual. it was just completely bizarre. >> becky's brother david says he knows his sister best and what the friends saw was just becky's way of coping. >> in your eyes was becky acting exactly the way a wife would act after a random senseless shooting? >> becky would act like she would act if someone shot her husband and she was there. she was panicking, didn't know what to do. she was doing anything to get control of her emotions. our upbringing was control your emotions. >> was becky known for saying inappropriate things? >> stupid. yeah. i mean, becky wanted to control,
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she did not want to cry. she didn't want to be out of control for herself. >> her friends aren't the only ones that found her behavior unusual. after telling police how much she loved keith, she had this to say about her fatally injured husband. >> i bought a condo, moved out, and he -- he is a [bleep] for 31 years. >> she described keith to us in what i thought was an inappropriate manner. >> as a matter of routine, they already tested becky's hands at the crime scene for gunshot residue. >> they asked her what she was wearing. >> you were wearing the shirt and panties? >> a tube top and panties she had on under new clothes and that, says the detective, is when the interview took a revealing turn.
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>> no no no no, don't take it off. >> i'm going to put my shirt on. >> okay. clarify, wait until we finish. >> she grabbed the bottom of the top she was wearing, pulled it over her head, exposing her breasts and then she tossed her top to me. >> was she wearing a bra? >> no. >> you didn't even ask her for the top. she just whipped it off? >> that's right. >> so what are you thinking when she -- >> shocked. >> to investigators, becky's behavior was more than odd, it was suspicious. >> you walked into the interview still giving becky the benefit of the doubt. >> absolutely. >> and you walked out of the interview thinking there's a possibility she's going to become an official suspect. >> at that time there was definitely a possibility, yes. >> when the interview ended, detective mcneil and the other investigator went back to the house and that's where he made a key discovery in the utility
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room in the clothes dryer, a gun. >> that must have been kind of a bingo moment. >> that was a big moment for all of us because not only was the gun in the driver but the gun was wrapped in a blanket, a shell casing was in there as well, and also a glove. >> did you immediately think about the logistics of becky's story as far as where this man came in, where he exited? >> she had told us that he came into the home, shot keith, and walked directly back out the same way that he had come in. she made no mention of this man going into her laundry room, placing anything in the dryer. >> could there have been any explanation for why the gun was found in the dryer, different route than the route she described? >> if there was i didn't know what that was. >> investigators now suspected
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becky of lying about details, big and small. but they wanted more. as they analyzed evidence from the scene, a call came in from someone in becky's phone contacts nicknamed becky's prodigy. in fact, they noticed the unusual name when they looked at her phone the night of the shooting. >> becky lives in hugo, oklahoma. >> she's a customer. >> yes, she's a realtor broker. >> actually, becky's prodigy was a man named mark holbrook, and when he learned of keith's murder, he called up investigators. he wanted them to know he and becky had had an affair. when it ended 19 months before the shooting, he apologized to keith and promised never to see becky again, but he wanted cops to know she had been in touch with him recently and a lot. >> she still loved him and that she would be moving so she could be near him, whether he wanted to be with her or not.
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>> the affair had been a reason behind becky and keith's brief split. now investigators and the ex-lover hatched a plan. record a conversation between becky and her so-called prodigy, maybe becky would give something up to him. three days after keith was shot, becky's ex dialed her up. >> becky, how are you doing? >> thank you for calling me. >> becky seemed concerned about covering up the affair. >> if you could say you knew a broker by that name that you went to school with and that's it. >> she stuck to the story about the intruder that shot keith, she had news about him. >> guy that killed keith killed himself yesterday, we're no longer in danger. >> well, that's good, that's good news. >> i know. i really think it is good. >> we didn't have any information like that, law enforcement had not given her
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any information like that. >> the call rang all kinds of alarm bells for investigators, but didn't yield a lot in the way of hard evidence. but cops thought they had the goods on becky in another way. by now, they had examined that weapon found in the dryer and concluded it belonged to becky. on september 23rd, the day before keith's funeral, becky was arrested and charged with his murder. >> what was her reaction? >> she seemed shocked. she was yelling things at us. >> an open and shut case? becky's brother said far from it. >> law enforcement here let us all down because what i want is the truth. >> in court, evidence would be examined and the truth would turn out to be more bizarre than anyone could have guessed. coming up. the secret life of the fire chief's wife.
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>> she just openly told me i had sex with a 29-year-old client this morning and i have a picture on my phone. >> when "dateline" continues. she just graduated and got a freelance gig. it's not going very well. so she's coming to the new samsung experience shop at best buy to find all the galaxy devices she needs. and get personalized demos. which means less of this... ow! you shocked me! ...and more of this. well done, anne. the samsung experience shop.
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becky bryan, the ones well liked wife of fire chief and city councilman keith bryan, stood accused of a vicious crime.
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her tight circle of friends drifted away, but not everyone in town believed she was a killer. >> i don't believe that becky bryan shot keith bryan. >> gary james is a friend of the bryans and prominent defense attorney. he says the case against his client becky doesn't add up. >> you believe an innocent woman is sitting behind bars? >> sure, sure. she had a lot of bad circumstances, but i do believe somebody shot keith and ran from that house. >> her attorney says there was a rush to judgment against becky and as a result the state just didn't have the proof to back up the charge. >> i do believe that law enforcement agencies in this day and age have the ability to do a lot of things that were not done in this case. i don't believe they ever looked for anyone, which was a huge part of our defense.
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>> he is in a little itty bitty pickup going down my street. >> you know becky probably better than anyone else. when you listen to that 911 call, you believe becky is being truthful in. >> yeah, i really do, and it is because she was a very detailed person. she is not being panicky, she's trying to describe, she's trying to think through the process, she's very analytical. >> half the town that prayed for keith when he was shot came to court. >> been a tough year and a half. very tough. >> no cameras were allowed inside the courtroom. as the prosecution came armed with a simple, powerful narrative, becky bryan wanted out of her marriage, so she shot her husband and invented the tale of an intruder. >> shot my husband in the head. >> the case against becky began with a slew of secrets from her personal life.
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they called to court two men who received explicit texts and pictures from becky days before the shooting. and this man, a former client of becky's, came to the stand and testified they had sex the day of the crime. pam woodard says becky told her about it the day of the shooting. >> she openly told me, i had sex with a 29-year-old client this morning, and i have a picture of his private area on my phone. that's not the word she used. and she said and i feel kind of bad because when i got home, keith had made me a tea. and -- >> alarm bells going off? >> it was the oddest conversation. >> but pam and some of becky's other girlfriends weren't brought to court just to talk about that. >> what was the purpose of you taking the stand and what was that experience like? >> i did not want to take the stand.
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i was made to take the stand. i was subpoenaed by the prosecution. >> the prosecution wanted pam to testify about becky's obsession with her ex-lover, mark holbrook, aka becky's prodigy. becky confided her feelings for him months earlier, when becky and keith appeared to be happier than ever. >> i said becky, you and keith seem to be really committed to making this work and she said to me oh, i'm a great faker. once i made my mind up about something, i'm a great faker. and my heart just kind of sank. >> the prosecution argued this was becky's motive for murder. she was fixated on her ex-lover and elaborately scheming to get him back. >> she proceeded to tell me she was going to tell the ex-lover she was pregnant. >> so she's saying she's pregnant with his baby. >> i said becky, you're 50 plus years old. >> she said 50-year-old people
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get pregnant all the time. i said who, where? how does this happen? i never heard of that. her reasoning had just kind of gone out the window at that point. >> how far had she gone with the baby story? >> she wanted somebody that could provide her with positive pregnancy tests. she wanted to have a birth announcement printed up. >> birth announcement? >> birth announcement. >> had a name picked out? >> she had a name picked out. >> mark, that object of becky's obsession also testified, adding this potentially incriminating detail. he said on the day keith was shot becky left him a voice mail, saying she planned to buy a house near him because she was about to inherit some money. to many in court, the implication was that becky had been expecting a life insurance payout. becky and keith's grown sons kept their feelings about their mother's guilt or innocence to themselves, but both testified
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briefly for the prosecution, as did a parade of investigators and fforensics experts. there was gunshot rest due detected on becky's hand. in the driver with the gun that belonged to becky, a blanket with holes in it, a shell casing and a glove. forensic biologist testified the glove had becky's dna on it. >> i tried to be as open minded as i could, wait and hear all the evidence, but as it went on, i was convinced she was guilty. >> the state argued it was premeditated murder by a woman who had been living a double life. becky's brother and chief supporter wasn't buying it. >> do you feel the evidence was overwhelming against becky? >> if you want to convict her of being a slut, a greedy slut, yeah. not a murderer. >> coming up.
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questions about the evidence. >> didn't fingerprint the dryer, didn't fingerprint the gun. how do you not fingerprint the gun? >> i was so nervous, my hands were shaking. and next friday on "dateline," written in blood. >> there was blood on the ground. >> a loving mother and father killed, left behind, a family in mourning, and letters sprawled in blood. >> there was obviously some type of message. >> what was the message? the name of the killer? a clue to the motive? would it solve this mystery or add to it.
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becky bryan that was accused of murder no longer resembled the woman she once was. popular gramd wife of a community leader. if her looks had changed, her story had not.
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she was innocent. >> keith and becky had grown apart. can you condone affairs? no, but it happens. that does not make one a killer. >> are you disappointed in your sister? >> lord, no. i mean, i don't like some of the things that i heard, but she's my sister. i love her. >> becky's attorney didn't try to rehabilitate her reputation in court. the evidence of her affairs was overwhelming. but when it came to the crime, the defense told the jury the proof was lacking. >> can you breakdown for us the biggest errors you feel law enforcement made in this case? >> i think tunnel vision. i think that dictated this case from the night it happened. they did no other fingerprinting on any other door. they didn't fingerprint the dryer. they didn't fingerprint the gun. how do you not fingerprint a gun? >> the defense had an explanation for how an intruder
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could have easily used becky's gun to commit the crime. becky usually left it in her purse, which investigators found in her car in the garage. >> do you believe that the perpetrator she spoke of came through the garage, found her gun in the car, went in and shot keith? >> really what i thought happened, perpetrator came in, got the gun out of the vehicle. >> what's more, that glove with becky's dna on it also had someone else's dna, but the csis couldn't narrow it down, not to keith or anyone else. >> it was actually a very large man's work glove. >> was there gunshot residue on the glove? >> yes. >> it was the theme of the defense's case. csi investigators from the state had been so quick to zero in on becky as the suspect, they committed crime scene malpractice. >> didn't do any contact dna on
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the gun and that's a very simple process. they didn't do any gunshot residue testing on her clothes, didn't do that on her face, which would have been very, very telling. i mean, there are just things that would have given us reasonable doubt. >> the defense told the jury investigators all but ignored any evidence that pointed to an intruder. becky's neighbor came to court with that story about the suspicious handyman he had seen in the neighborhood, and the truck spotted speeding around the night keith was shot. >> it was something that we felt maybe the perpetrator had been canvassing the area, spying on what was going on in the neighborhood. >> and another witness testified he told police at the time he saw a truck matching the one becky described driving aggressively near the bryans the night of the shooting. >> that was the key to the case. he had a person in a matching truck speeding, driving erratically, that had come up on
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him, almost hit a vehicle. all within blocks. >> but the statement that witness gave investigators only surfaced a few weeks before trial. >> they didn't follow up on it. there were cameras at two different businesses right there at that intersection. >> and one additional detail to contradict the prosecution's case, becky's brother david testified there was an innocent explanation for the inheritance she mentioned to her ex-lover. she wasn't talking about life insurance. becky was about to inherit a diamond ring. >> it was my aunt's ring. >> an expensive ring? >> very expensive. appraisal at one time was $19,000, some years earlier. so obviously had a little more value. >> more than enough reasonable doubt said the defense. but would a jury agree? the wait for a verdict began. >> i was so nervous waiting for
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it, my hands were shaking. >> i was holding out hope that the jury would recognize the mistakes that were made and understand that because of those mistakes we may never know who really did it. >> afternoon turned to evening and then the news. the jury was back. >> very nervous, very anxious. my thoughts were with keith's family. >> the verdict, guilty of first degree murder. >> and then when he read guilty, i really didn't feel a whole lot. i didn't feel happy. >> how was your first meeting with becky after her conviction? >> she cried, said she couldn't believe it. >> what has becky told you? >> that she didn't do it. but i still don't know the truth. there are either one or two people on the face of this earth that knows the truth. if becky did it, she's the only
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one that knows. if somebody else did it, she knows it and that person knows it. if one of those two people come forward and say i did it, then we'll know the truth. other than that -- >> on july 9th, becky was sentenced as the jury had recommended to life in prison without parole. for keith's friends, the trial and its conclusion were only one sort of an ending, tangible reminders of their friend and hero live on, especially in the fire department keith led for so many years. >> what is life like now without your friend, without your chief, without keith? >> we still talk about him, some of the funny things he did. he's a part of our history here now and always will be and we miss him. >> if keith was listening, what would you say to keith? >> that i know he's in a great place and keith would tell us to
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forgive becky, not to say that she doesn't have to be held accountable and that she doesn't have to suffer consequences because that's a given and that's the right thing, but keith would actually want us to forgive becky. and i know that. and i would just tell keith well done. your time on earth here was well done. that's all for this edition of "dateline." we'll be back again next friday at 9:00, 8:00 central. i'll see you tomorrow on "today." i am lester holt in for all of us at nbc news. good nig
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the b.a.r.t. strike is looming. about 48 hours to go and still no deal. b.a.r.t. and union leaders ended talks just a few hours ago. >> b.a.r.t.'s general manager says progress is being made on several tentative deals in place. both sides she says are still far apart on key issues. salary, medical and pensions. that news was the bay area bracing for life without b.a.r.t. come monday morning. >> expect